Licking Into Shape


Parasol on gravelled patio

This morning we bought another parasol for the South end gravelled patio.

After lunch, The Head Gardener watered and I dead-headed The Rose Garden. Here there are two examples of similar but different flowers that she has been pointing out recently.

For Your Eyes Only

These are For Your Eyes Only

Summer Wine

and Summer Wine.

Hydrangea 1Hydrangea 2

Other manifestations are these two hydrangeas. Apart from the subtly different hues, can you spot the difference?

When Jackie and I visited Wimborne Minster on 23rd November 2013, we could not access the Chained Library. This was, however, possible for her and her sisters when they were staying near there recently.

The Chained Library003

Helen bought me a copy of W. A. (Frank) Tandy’s small booklet, which I finished reading today.

Tandy provides a brief introduction to the practice of chaining library books, and details of those, mostly dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, contained in Wimborne Minster. The earliest volume in the collection is “Regimen Animarum”, a manuscript written on vellum, dated 1343. The books cover other subjects than the expected ecclesiastic ones. Gardening, science, and medicine are examples. I found it fascinating to discover that Sir Thomas Browne’s “The Pseudodoxia Epidemica of 1672” ‘examines the theory that a female bear gives birth to a lump of fat which she then licks into the shape of the cub she wants; it is from this that the expression ‘licking into shape’ originates’.


This illustration comes from a mediaeval bestiary, Bodley 764, taken from Pinterest.

In mediaeval times, and the early years of printing, many books were extremely valuable. Most were bound in wooden boards making it possible to chain them in the manner thus described by Wikipedia:

‘A chained library is a library where the books are attached to their bookcase by a chain, which is sufficiently long to allow the books to be taken from their shelves and read, but not removed from the library itself. This would prevent theft of the library’s materials.[1] The practice was usual for reference libraries (that is, the vast majority of libraries) from the Middle Ages to approximately the 18th century. However, since the chaining process was also expensive, it was not used on all books.[2] Only the more valuable books in a collection were chained.[2] This included reference books and large books.[2]

It is standard for chained libraries to have the chain fitted to the corner or cover of a book. This is because if the chain were to be placed on the spine the book would suffer greater wear from the stress of moving it on and off the shelf. Because of the location of the chain attached to the book (via a ringlet) the books are housed with their spine facing away from the reader with only the pages’ fore-edges visible (that is, the ‘wrong’ way round to people accustomed to contemporary libraries). This is so that each book can be removed and opened without needing to be turned around, hence avoiding tangling its chain. To remove the book from the chain, the librarian would use a key.[3]

Chained library in Hereford Cathedral

The earliest example in England of a library to be endowed for use outside an institution such as a school or college was the Francis Trigge Chained Library in GranthamLincolnshire, established in 1598. The library still exists and can justifiably claim to be the forerunner of later public library systems. Marsh’s Library in Dublin, built 1701, is another non institutional library which is still housed in its original building. Here it was not the books that were chained, but rather the readers were locked into cages to prevent rare volumes from ‘wandering’. There is also an example of a chained library in the Royal Grammar School, Guildford as well as at Hereford Cathedral. While chaining books was a popular practice throughout Europe, it was not used in all libraries. The practice of chaining library books became less popular as printing increased and books became less expensive.[3]Wimborne Minster in Dorset, England is yet another example of a Chained Library. It is one of the first in England and the second largest.[4]


As I entered this onto WordPress, I enjoyed the scent of our sweet peas standing on my window sill.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s vegetable rice salad with cheese-centred fish cakes. My lady drank Hoegaarden and I drank Kingfisher.

P.S. Cynthia Jobin’s comment below has some interesting additional information on early books.

An Incontestable Explanation


It was an interesting day.

We began by searching out a garden parasol that would meet the exacting requirements of the Head Gardener. Beginning with Stewart’s at Christchurch, where we at least bought a dahlia with this month’s half price offer token, we travelled to Redcliffe Nurseries where we failed again.

Patio parasol

Finally we found the very thing at Everton Nurseries, just along the road from us.

Having spent most of the morning on this, I set about tackling an item I did not recognise on my monthly NatWest MasterCard statement. Having gone through the usual hoops to reach an advisor, she rang me back after taking details, and referred me to someone else, I learned that Laithwaite’s wine merchants had been taking a regular annual subscription fee since I last used their service in 2004. Yes, I know, I should have checked my statements more thoroughly.

NatWest could stop any further payments, but they could not do anything about the last 12 years. Neither could they negotiate with Laithwaite’s. That was up to me. With some reluctance, the adviser gave me a telephone for the wine merchant. There were some digits missing, so I couldn’t get through. Rather than phone the bank again, I thought I’d look them up on line.

Google was down.

I called the bank again. Another person gave me another number.

I phoned Laithwaite’s who couldn’t identify me because they had no account with my card details at my current address. I explained that I had once been a Laithwaite’s customer many years ago. I was asked for the postcode of the address at which I had been living when I last used them. Assuming it was probably our home in Newark, fortunately I remembered it. I would receive a phone call as soon as permission for a refund had been granted.

I couldn’t even write this up until my search engine recovered.

We had a coffee on the patio and I sought solace in plants like various


dahlias, such as Coup de Soleil


and another, whose name escapes me (not that I ever had it);


Phlox 1Phlox 2


and phlox.


The scent of these lilies rivals anything else in the Rose Garden perfume parlour.

In fairness to Laithwaite’s their customer services department sorted this out and rang me back as promised. I will receive a full refund. Apparently they had been sending letters to Lindum House and receiving no reply. I said that I was grateful for their speedy response, but, when I expressed surprise that in those circumstances they continued to take my money, there was an incontestable explanation.

This was an opt out system, not an opt in one. In other words once you have ever opted in  you are in forever unless you opt out. Clear? Clever.

Then Google began operating again.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, with which she drank Kingfisher and I drank more of the Hawkes Bay Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon.